The Fortune 500 and Social Media: A Longitudinal Study of Blogging and Twitter Usage by America s Largest Companies

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1 The Fortune 500 and Social Media: A Longitudinal Study of Blogging and Twitter Usage by America s Largest Companies Conducted By: Nora Ganim Barnes, Ph.D., Eric Mattson CEO, Financial Insite Introduction Each year Fortune Magazine compiles a list of America s largest corporations, aptly named the Fortune 500 given their size and wealth. Due to the hugely influential role that these companies play in the business world, studying their usage of new technological tools like social media offers important insights into the future of commerce. In 2009, the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth released one of the first studies of the Fortune 500 s adoption and usage of one of the best-known forms of social media blogging. This new study revisits and refreshes that prior in-depth study and expands to look at the Fortune 500 s usage of the most dramatically growing new social media site the microblogging service Twitter. This research also builds on the Center s work since 2007 examining social media in a variety of organizations including the Inc. 500, US colleges and universities and the Forbes list of the 200 largest charities. ( The Fortune 500 (F500) list includes publicly and privately held companies for which revenues are publicly available. For more information on the Fortune 500, please visit A detailed summary of the findings of this study and the methodology follows. To be added to our distribution list so that you can stay abreast of our research and writings, please us at or Methodology For purposes of this research, the following definition was used to locate 2009 Fortune 500 companies with blogs. A company was counted as having a blog if they had a publicfacing corporate blog from the primary corporation with posts in the past 12 months. This is the same definition used in the 2008 study.

2 Due to the complexity of corporate legal structures in this group and no clear methodology on how subsidiaries have been located or analyzed by others, the research presented here continues to focus on the primary/listed corporation. In addition, it is worth noting that there is evidence of usage of social media such as blogs inside of large companies like the F500. This research did not look at that subject but instead focused on public-facing blogs as a barometer of usage. All companies were analyzed using multiple steps. First, working from the published 2009 Fortune 500 list, all corporate home pages were examined for links to, or mention of, corporate blogs. If none were found, a search on the company s site was conducted using the key word blog. Any links resulting from that search were followed and evaluated using the established criteria. If no blogs were located on the home page or through a site search, other search engines were used. Both Google and Technorati (a leading blog-focused search engine) were employed to check for corporate blogs using key words that included the primary/listed company name and the word blog. This proved to be an effective method since additional blogs were located. Similarly, all companies were analyzed through multiple steps to locate corporate Twitter accounts. First, working from the 2009 Fortune 500 list, all corporate home pages were examined for links to, or mention of, a corporate Twitter account. If none were found, a search on the company s website was conducted using the keyword Twitter. Any links resulting from that search were followed and evaluated using the established criteria. If no Twitter accounts were located on the home page or through a site search, Google was used to search for Twitter accounts using keywords that included the primary/listed company name and the word Twitter. If no Twitter accounts were found this way, a search on the Twitter website was conducted using the primary/listed company name. These additional services proved to be effective as other Twitter accounts were located. All 500 companies on the list were researched using this process. This is the only known attempt to examine the entire Fortune 500 list for use of the microblogging tool, Twitter. The data was collected in October and November 2009 at the University of MA Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research. 1. Blogs in the 2009 Fortune 500 One hundred-eight (22%) of the primary corporations listed on the 2009 Fortune 500 have a public-facing corporate blog with a post in the past 12 months. These include three of the top five corporations (Wal-Mart, Chevron and General Electric). The two remaining in the top 5, Exxon/Mobil and Conoco Philips do not have public-facing blogs at this time. In our 2008 study of Fortune 500 blogs, 81 companies (16%) met the criteria. At that time the top five included General Motors who was replaced in 2009 by General Electric (both

3 have blogs). In both years Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhillips did not have a public-facing blog. The end result is a 6% increase in public-facing blogs. Three of the top 5 ranking companies in both years have blogs. Fortune 500 Companies With Blogs 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 16% 22% 2008 Fortune Fortune Blogs by Industry The 108 companies with blogs come from a cross section of industries. A partial list is presented below showing those industries with the greatest presence in the blogosphere. Fortune 500 Companies With a Blog (2009) Fortune 500 Companies With a Blog (2008) Industry Computer Software, Peripherals, Office Equipment 11 8 Specialty Retail 7 4 Telecommunications 6 5 Food Production, Services and Drug Stores 6 5 Commercial Banks 5 4 Insurance 5 4 Semiconductors 5 4 Information Technology 4 3 Motor Vehicle 4 4 Blogging varied by industry type. As might be expected, companies in the industry of computer software, peripherals and office equipment have the most blogs (11). This group was also the industry with the most blogs in the 2008 listings. Companies in this category include Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Microsoft, Apple, Oracle and Xerox. The specialty retail industry saw an increase in blogging by companies such as Home Depot, Best Buy, Toys R Us and BJ s Wholesale, from 4 companies on the 2008 list to

4 7 from the 2009 list. The telecommunications industry represented by companies like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and Comcast had 6 of the blogs studied. Last year's list had 5. Food-related companies like Safeway, McDonald s, Tyson, General Mills, Whole Foods Market and Hershey also had 6 blogs, up from 5 on 2008 list. Three industries had 5 blogs in These, with some company examples, include: commercial banks (Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase), insurance (Progressive, NY Life), and semiconductors (Intel, Texas Instruments). All three had 4 blogs each last year. The information technology and motor vehicle industries both had 4 blogs in Blogs by Rank Rank continues to influence the adoption of blogging by the F500. The top 100 companies on the list represent 39% of the 108 blogs in the 2009 F500. In 2008, 38% of the total number of blogs came from the top 100. The group ranked makes up 19% of the 2009 F500 with a corporate blog. The top 200 companies in 2009 account for 58% of the F500 blogs, while the bottom 200 (those listed ) account for 29% of the 2009 F500 blogs. The findings were consistent using the 2008 list with the top 200 having 63% of the F500 s blogs while the bottom 200 had 26%. It is interesting to note however, that while adoption is lower among the bottom 200 in both years, the latest data shows a significant increase in adoption among the lower-ranked group. Of the top five corporations on the list, three have blogs. These include Wal-Mart (#2), Chevron (#3) and General Electric (#5). Consistent with the 2008 list, Exxon Mobil (#1) and Conoco Phillips (#4) do not have blogs. 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 38% 39% Fortune 500 Blogs By Rank (2008 vs. 2009) 25% 19% 16% 11% 13% 11% 18% 10% Rank Level of Interaction on the Blogs All 108 blogs were examined to determine the level of interactivity the blog allowed. This was done by looking at the blog to see if comments were accepted, if RSS feeds or subscriptions were available and checking the date of the last post to determine how current it was. Consistent with the findings on the 2008 Fortune 500, 90% percent of the Fortune 500 blogs take comments, have RSS feeds and take subscriptions.

5 These blogs are kept current with frequent posts on a range of topics. It appears that those companies that have made the decision to blog have utilized the tool well. There is frequent posting, on-going discussion and the ability to follow the conversation easily through RSS or subscriptions. Of the 108 blogs located, 93 (86%) are linked directly to a corporate Twitter account, that s more than three times as many as members of the 2008 list. Many more corporations do have Twitter accounts (see section 6 below), but at this time they do not link to those from their blog. 5. Comparison with the Inc. 500 The Fortune 500 companies are blogging at a lower rate than other business groups, specifically the Inc The Inc. 500 list is composed of the fastest-growing, private companies in the US, while the Fortune 500 is based on total revenue not growth and may include public and private companies. Although blogging increased by 6% from 2008 for both Inc. 500 and Fortune 500 the later is still blogging at a much lower rate. It is possible that the difference is related to size of the company, internal structure or corporate philosophy regarding open communication with its stakeholders. Regardless of the motivation, the Fortune 500 companies have been less likely to adopt social media tools than their smaller, fastgrowing counterparts. Blogs In The Fortune 500 vs. Inc. 500 (2008 and 2009) 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 45% 39% 22% 16% Fortune 500 Inc Corporate Twitter Accounts For purposes of this research, the following definition was used to locate 2009 Fortune 500 companies with Twitter accounts. A company was considered a user of Twitter if they had an official corporate account with posts (a.k.a. a tweet ) made within the past thirty days. One hundred and seventy-three (35%) of the primary corporations listed on the 2009 Fortune 500 has a Twitter account with a post within the past thirty days. Of these

6 companies, four of the top five corporations (Wal-Mart, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and General Electric) consistently post on their Twitter accounts. The number one ranked company, Exxon Mobil, does not have a Twitter account at this time. Four of the companies (Boeing, Footlocker, FPL Group and Winn-Dixie Stores) had their Tweets protected and required a request to view their profile. Because we could not verify posts within the last 30 days, they were not included in our tally. Nine of the companies (Baker Hughes, CIT Group, Computer Sciences, Delta Air Lines, Ecolab, Manitowoc, Mattel, MeadWestvaco and Union Pacific) with corporate Twitter accounts had not posted within the past 30 days, so they were excluded from our analysis since they did not meet our definition. The entire list of 2009 Fortune 500 companies (173) that met our criteria and their Twitter accounts are listed in Appendix A. 6A. Twitter Accounts by Industry The 173 companies with Twitter accounts come from a cross section of industries. A partial list is presented below showing those industries with the greatest presence on Twitter. Industry Number of 2009 F500 Companies with a Twitter Account Insurance 13 Food Production, Services, Drug Stores and Consumer Products 11 Computer Software, Peripherals, Office Equipment 10 Specialty Retail 10 Telecommunications 10 Utilities 10 Tweeting differed by industry type with insurance having the most Twitter accounts (13). Companies in this category include Allstate, TIAA-CREF, Liberty Mutual Insurance Group and Northwestern Mutual. The food-related industry represented by companies like Kroger, Walgreen and McDonald's had 11 of the Twitter accounts studied. Many industries had 10 companies with a Twitter account. These, with some company examples, include: computer software, peripherals and office equipment (Hewlett- Packard, Microsoft), specialty retail (Home Depot, Lowe's), telecommunications (AT&T, Verizon Communications) and utilities (Dominion Resources, Duke Energy). 6B. Twitter Accounts by Rank Rank appears to influence the use of Twitter by the 2009 Fortune 500. Of the top 100 companies on the list, 47 have a Twitter account. Of the group listed , 35 have a Twitter account. Those listed have 30, have 28 and have 33 Twitter accounts. Of the 173 twitter accounts that fit the definition for this study, 47% of them belong to Fortune 500 companies listed in the top 200 while 35% come from those

7 listed in the bottom 200 ( ) on the 2009 list Fortune 500 Corporate Twitter Accounts by Rank 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 27% 20% 18% 16% 19% Rank 6C. Level of Interaction on Twitter All 173 companies with Twitter accounts were examined to determine the level of interactivity with readers by or retweets and by checking the date of the last post to determine how current it was. One hundred and twenty companies (69%) consistently responded or retweets within the past thirty days. These Twitter accounts are kept up-to-date with current news and information. There is consistent interaction with other users and on-going discussions that are easy to follow. 7. Use of Podcasting and Video The 2009 Fortune 500 blogs were also examined to determine usage of additional social media tools. Researchers looked for the use of podcasting (audio files available for download) and video to enhance the blog. Nineteen percent of the 2009 Fortune 500 is podcasting and 31% are using video on their blog sites. The data collected previously on the 2008 Fortune 500 showed less involvement with 16% of that group podcasting and 21% using video in their blogs Fortune 500 Use of Podcasting and Video Blogging 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% 16% 19% 21% 31% Podcasting Video Blogging

8 Conclusion The continued steady adoption of blogs and the explosive growth of Twitter among Fortune 500 companies demonstrate the growing importance of social media in the business world. These large and leading companies drive the American economy and to a large extent the world economy. Surely a willingness to interact more transparently via these new technologies with their stakeholders is a good thing. Where it leads will be fascinating to watch! To be added to our distribution list so that you can stay abreast of our research and writings, please us at or

9 2009 Fortune 500 Companies with Blogs (n=108) (As of December 2009) Rank Name of Company 2Wal-Mart Stores 3Chevron 5General Electric 6General Motors 7Ford Motor 8AT&T 9Hewlett-Packard 10Valero Energy 11Bank of America Corp. 14International Business Machines 16J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. 17Verizon Communications 20Procter & Gamble 25Home Depot 29Johnson & Johnson 33Dell 34Boeing 35Microsoft 41Wells Fargo 43United Parcel Service 44Caterpillar 46Pfizer 48Time Warner 50Safeway 56Best Buy 57Cisco Systems 58Johnson Controls 59FedEx 60Walt Disney 61Intel 64Sprint Nextel 68Comcast 71Apple 72CHS 73Coca-Cola 74American Express 76New York Life Insurance 78Motorola 87Deere

10 89Tyson Foods 90Alcoa 94Emerson Electric 107McDonald's 110Wyeth 111Delta Air Lines 113Oracle 116Coca-Cola Enterprises 117Google 119Manpower 127Goodyear Tire & Rubber 130Amazon.com 136Nike 144Avnet 147Xerox 153Computer Sciences 172EMC 176PG&E Corp. 182AutoNation 186CBS 187Sun Microsystems 192Toys "R" Us 193General Mills 196Medtronic 201Waste Management 208Marriott International 209Progressive 215Texas Instruments 227Baker Hughes 231DISH Network 235Monsanto 246Southwest Airlines 266SAIC 269BJ's Wholesale Club 270Unum Group 271Genworth Financial 284Eastman Kodak 296GameStop 301Nordstrom 307Aon 314PPL 315Applied Materials 324Whole Foods Market 331SLM

11 338Virgin Media 345Yahoo 382KeyCorp 387Newell Rubbermaid 391McGraw-Hill 395Pitney Bowes 409Thrivent Financial for Lutherans 412Harley-Davidson 417Starwood Hotels & Resorts 418Advanced Micro Devices 419Symantec 422Owens Corning 423Micron Technology 425Agilent Technologies 433DaVita 435SunGard Data Systems 446NCR 450Blockbuster 452Clorox 454Foot Locker 456Unisys 463Hershey 470Con-way 477NYSE Euronext 496Brightpoint 2009 Fortune 500 Companies with Twitter Accounts (n=173) (As of December 2009) Company Rank Wal-Mart Stores 2 Chevron 3 ConocoPhillips 4 General Electric 5 General Motors 6 Ford Motor 7 AT&T 8 Hewlett-Packard 9 Bank of America Corp. 11 Citigroup 12

12 International Business Machines 14 McKesson 15 Verizon Communications 17 Procter & Gamble 20 UnitedHealth Group 21 Kroger 22 Home Depot 25 Target 28 Johnson & Johnson 29 Dell 33 Boeing 34 Microsoft 35 Walgreen 36 Wells Fargo 42 United Parcel Service 43 Caterpillar 44 Pfizer 46 Lowe's 47 Time Warner 48 Sears Holding 49 PepsiCo 52 Lockheed Martin 54 Best Buy 56 Cisco Systems 57 Johnson Controls 58 Walt Disney 60 Intel 61 Sprint Nextel 64 Ingram Micro 67 Comcast 68 Northrop Grumman 69 Coca-Cola 73 American Express 74 DuPont 75 Motorola 78 Allstate 81 TIAA-CREF 82 Liberty Mutual Insurance Group 86 Publix Super Markets 101 Tech Data 102 McDonald's 107 Raytheon 108 Delta Air Lines 111

13 Oracle 113 Express Scripts 115 Coca-Cola Enterprises 116 Google 117 Northwestern Mutual 118 Manpower 119 UAL 123 Nationwide 124 Constellation Energy 125 DirecTV Group 126 Kimberly-Clark 128 Amazon.com 130 Cigna 132 Whirlpool 133 Union Pacific 143 Avnet 144 Xerox 147 Computer Sciences 153 FPL Group 154 Dominion Resources 157 PPG Industries 161 Eaton 164 Health Net 165 Continental Airlines 167 EMC 172 Office Depot 179 American Electric Power 180 AutoNation 182 Smithfield Foods 183 CBS 186 Sun Microsystems 187 Medtronic 196 Qwest Communications 197 Aramark 198 Chubb 203 Duke Energy 204 United Services Automobile Association 207 Marriot International 208 Progressive 209 Texas Instruments 215 Baxter International 219 Freddie Mac 220

14 Baker Hughes 227 Circuit City Stores 228 DISH Network 231 Monsanto 235 Yum Brands 239 CSX 240 Xcel Energy 242 Qualcomm 244 Southwest Airlines 246 Sempra Energy 252 Pepco Holdings 254 Norfolk Southern 256 Dollar General 259 Starbucks 261 SAIC 266 Genworth 271 Terex 275 Regions Financial 280 Eastman Kodak 284 DTE Energy 285 Hartford Financial Services 287 Progress Energy 288 YRC Worldwide 293 First Data 295 GameStop 296 Automatic Data Processing 297 Assurant 299 C. H. Robinson Worldwide 300 Nordstrom 301 ebay 303 Hertz Global Holdings 305 AGCO 306 Aon 307 Campbell Soup 309 CarMax 311 OfficeMax 313 Boston Scientific 320 Whole Foods Market 324 Ameren 327 Synnex 328 XTO Energy 330 SLM 331 Virgin Media 338

15 Winn-Dixie Stores 340 Cablevision Systems 342 Atmos Energy 343 Yahoo! 345 Discover Financial Services 352 NRG Energy 363 Eastman Chemical 364 MeadWestvaco 365 Charter Communications 385 Newell Rubbermaid 387 Henry Schein 389 McGraw-Hill Pulte Homes 393 Pitney Bowes 395 CIT Group 397 First American Corp 398 Ecolab 403 Thrivent Financial for Lutherans 409 Harley-Davidson 412 Mattel 415 Tenneco 416 Symantec 419 Owens Corning 422 Northeast Utilities 424 Agilent Technologies 425 Rockwell Automation 429 Timken 431 DaVita 433 SunGuard Data Systems 435 CH2M Hill 436 Kelly Services 437 BJ Services 438 Graybar Electric 439 Western & Southern Financial Group 441 NCR 446 Blockbuster 450 Western Union 451 Clorox 452 Footlocker 454 Barnes and Noble 455 Unisys 456

16 Hershey 463 Con-Way 470 Mastercard 474 NYSE Euronext 477 Manitowoc 480 Fiserv 482 Insight Enterprises 484 NuStar Energy 485 Rockewell Collins 488 Broadcom 495 Consol Energy 497 Big Lots 498

17 Bios & Acknowledgments Nora Ganim Barnes, Ph. D. Nora Ganim Barnes is a Chancellor Professor of Marketing and Director of the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Nora has worked as a consultant for many national and international firms. Working closely with businesses in the Northeast US, Nora and her students have provided marketing research assistance to hundreds of small businesses. She has published articles in academic and professional journals and proceedings, has contributed chapters to books, and has been awarded numerous research grants. Her work has been covered online and in print by Business Week, the NY Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Fox News and Computer World among others. She has been named a Senior Research Fellow by the Society for New Communications Research. Nora can be reached at Eric Mattson Eric Mattson is the CEO of Financial Insite Inc., a Seattle-based boutique research firm focusing on technology innovation in finance and banking. He s also an independent social media scholar whose research has been covered online and in print by BusinessWeek, Inc. Magazine, the NY Times and a number of other publications. Prior to his current endeavors, Eric ran direct marketing, market research and marketing analytics for SanMar, one of the largest generic clothing wholesalers in the United States. Eric is a proud graduate of the University of Washington where he earned dual degrees in business administration and mathematics as a Washington Scholar. He can be reached at Acknowledgements The authors wish to thank Ava Lescault, Associate Director and Senior Research Associate and the students from the University of MA Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research for their endless enthusiasm and dedication to this project. Special thanks goes to Alicia Newton and Holly Cabral for their assistance.

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